The Blacksheep Affair (1998)

Directed by
Expect the worst, and it might be a pleasant surprise
Reviewed by Simon on 2002-03-11

The first time that I saw THE BLACKSHEEP AFFAIR I was quite convinced that it was the worst movie ever made. Eventually, Martial Angels came along and bumped it up to second-worst, but it still stood out as remarkably bad in my memory. I never expected to change my mind on this, but recently there seemed to be quite a lot of people saying nice things about it (mainly the action). I was quite convinced they were all delusional, but just to be sure I decided to watch it again and confirm it's absolute awfulness...

... and I really enjoyed it!

I am increasingly convinced that appreciation of a movie is completely unrelated to any factor in the movie itself, but is purely in inverse proportion to expectations of quality. Either that, or some movies just age really well I guess.

The setting of the fictitious European country of Lavernia (inaccurately translated as Lithuania in the subs) gives the movie quite a different feel to most Hong Kong Movies, and the strange mixture of accents the English speaking Lavernians display is quite charming if you look at it the right way. The complex plot of politics and revolutionaries is quite interesting if you don't try to read too much logic into it, and Andrew Lin makes a great megalomaniac villain. Zhao Wen-Zhao has zero charisma again, but Shu Qi has enough to carry him along, and he does show some nice kung fu here.

The action scenes are actually really quite cool too - if you forgive some very cheesy camera angles and gratuitous use of slow motion, and some iffy editing. Lavernia really gets torn up during the course of the movie, and the final reel is pretty tense and exciting stuff. There's 2 moments in the movie that have some hilarious comedy too, though I'm not sure how deliberate it was (one radio news report w/ a Paul McCartney connection, and a rope-based assault that goes wrong).

I actually can't remember why I thought it so bad when I first saw it... perhaps I was just hoping for something slicker/smarter/bigger budget or something. Or perhaps I'm just running it together with Fist Power in my memories - I'm right that FIST POWER really was unwatchably bad, right? Maybe I'll have to give that one another chance too...